Flowers of Passione

July 9, 2010 / Events
Spello, Umbria
infiorataspello11It all started on a late June Sunday in the early 1900’s when an elderly woman from Spello (Umbria) scattered shredded bunches of brilliant yellow wild broom and mossy green wild fennel on the cobblestone street in front of her home. She had scrambled the slopes of Mt. Subasio, Spello’s backdrop, to pick the fragrant broom and pungent fennel for her floral “carpet” laid out to welcome the Communion Host venerated by Catholics as the true Body of Christ, carried through the streets by the bishop for the Feast of Corpus Domini.

infiorataspello21In the years following that first simple floral tribute, other Spellani made this practice of flower decorations on the streets a new tradition, adding blooms of various colors, plants, seed pods and leaves to make creations of their own, competing with each other to create the most intricate floral masterpieces of singular beauty. The Corpus Domini Infiorata remains a tradition not only in Spello but has spread to other towns and cities as well.

infiorataspello31These days, more than 2000 people work for about three months in preparation for the all-night labor before the feast day. They now lay out 80 glorious floral petal carpets which will cover the streets and piazzas. The bishop who walks solemnly under an elaborate embroidered canopy, flanked by the confraternity of Corpus Domini members, in white tunics and yellow cloaks. On each side of the bishop, a pair of carabinieri (the state police) march solemnly in their snappy dress uniforms, hats topped with red plumes. Marching bands playing processional hymns precede the bishop and the faithful who follow, chanting prayers.

(If you missed the Infiorate this year, join me next year on June 24th for a day of wonder!)

(Ed.: See last year’s note on the infiorata too. Same event, different take, equally beautiful photos!)

infiorataspello51

Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See www.annesitaly.com for more on her Umbria tours. Do see www.stayassisi.com for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

6 Responses to “Flowers of Passione”

  1. Lenore Chicka

    I can’t even fathom the work that goes into this fascinating,
    stunning, and beautiful work. The devotion and dedication that
    they go through to create this masterpiece of beauty is
    incredible.
    Thank you for bringing this website to us.

    Reply
  2. Gian Banchero

    Thank you Anne for the article, I’m to send it to several members of my church. Several years ago when the few Hispanics arrived their priest started the Latin tradition of infiorata, the non Latin main priest thought it was a waste of time and energy and just plain “corny” so the tradition was abandoned as was the Latin nativity decorations outside the church, “Too Catholic.” Now the Hispanics are 73% of the church’s membership, our priests are from Spain which has galvanized the Italians and Portoguese membership who sense that their more organic artistic talents will also now be applied and appreciated, there is also talk of celebrating Saint Joseph and Saint Anthony as major church celebrations instead of only Saint Patrick (who was of Roman parents)… I will push for us to have an infiorata on the large church lawn every year, using the name “infiorata”! Thank you for the article and inspiration and the naming of a hopefully revived traditon!

    Reply
  3. Domenico Piccolomini

    Thank you for this beautiful note. Four years ago in the town of Pienza (Tuscany) on the feast of Corpus Domani a similar masterpiece was presented along the Piazza and the adjacent Street. I was beautiful.

    Reply
  4. Sending a sweet hello from Frog Hollow Farm. This sounds like a wonderful feast day experience – it must be difficult for the bishop and other members of the ceremony to step on all of those beautiful designs. Thank you for sharing! Ciao,bella!

    Reply
  5. Rita Jacoby

    I went to an Italian Festival this summer in Philadelphia,Pa. The sidewalk was decorated with flowers, pedals, & leaves . It was very intricate and beautiful. I knew there was some religious purpose but never saw anything like that before. Now I know, the “infiorata”. Thanks for the explanation.

    Reply
  6. lewis murray

    g.b….also this is done even nearer rome at civita castellana….in the late summer, can’t recall the feast day…but am sure info is easy to find. regards, and congrats on giulia’s new “project”…lewis and giorgina murray

    Reply

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